So what is this mysterious tome which apparently contains all knowledge of alcohol? Is it some ancient scroll, covered in heiroglyphs from an ancient and unknown tongue? Is it a lost relic from another world? Is it an infinite database stored on a top-secret server unreachable via any known web address?
Nope. It’s Playboy’s Host and Bar Book, written by Thomas Mario and published in 1971.
So why do we refer to it as “The Book“? Because it is quite simply the absolutely indispensable best reference guide for anyone who enjoys alcohol for more than just getting drunk.
Yes, at the time of this post, The Book is 43 years old. But don’t let that fool you. It is still just as relevant as the day Saint Mario first started writing the introductory page. Times and tastes may change, as well as brands and flavors of alcohol, but the basics will always remain the same, and this mighty tome explains those basics in such a way that a half-blind syphilitic Republican ocelot could understand.
Between the covers of this hefty volume (it is always a hardback book, a paperback has never been printed) are 339 pages full of not just the A – Z recipes you expect in a book about alcohol and tending bar, but the very history of alcohol. Starting back at the very dawn of time, when the first Neanderthal discovered the effects of fermented fruit all the way through to the more esoteric base spirits, The Book covers them all.
I know quite a few bartenders, from my time working the rag and the stick. And I can honestly say, any bartender worth his or her rail not only keeps a copy of The Book under the bar, but has another copy at their home.
The REALLY good bartenders have the companion volume, Playboy’s Bar Guide, nearby as well. While nowhere near as comprehensive as The Book, it is great as a “quick reference” for those just learning the trade.
One very important note if you decide to procure either (or both!) of these precious volumes for yourself. Make absolutely certain that you are getting the original 1971 First Printing Edition. Several later editions have been printed, all with fewer pages, and less of the history recorded in the First Edition.
Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.